Today, OSSE celebrates World Sickle Cell Day and recognizes the success of 17-year-old Banneker Senior High School junior Michael Olujimi who has sickle cell anemia. For Michael, sickle cell disease isn’t just a disease. The hereditary blood disorder is the motivation driving him to study cell and developmental biology this summer at Cornell University.
Michael’s participation in the six-week and six-credit program at Cornell is courtesy of an original initiative of OSSE: OSSE Scholars. Started in the spring of 2012, OSSE Scholars provides free early college exposure at Ivy League and top-tier universities to high-achieving, low-income public and charter school students in the District. Six other OSSE Scholars will join Michael at Cornell this summer and another 41 participants leave the District over the next two weeks for eye-opening experiences that aim to shape their futures. The other Scholars will attend programs at universities such as Barnard College, Boston University, Duke, Stanford and Emory.
After his study at Cornell and Banneker are complete, Michael sights are set on attending undergraduate and medical school at Johns Hopkins University. He says that college is something he needs to do, and he hopes to eventually become a hematologist – who finds the cure for the lifelong disease that affects 1 in 400 African American newborns.